It might be tempting to try to get as much shuteye as you can on a flight, but snoozing through takeoff and landing can lead to some serious health implications.
When a plane ascends into the air or descends to its destination, the air pressure in the cabin changes rapidly with the altitude — and if you’re not properly prepared to acclimate, it can wreak havoc on your eardrums.
As British pharmacist Angela Chalmers explained to Express: “A quick change in altitude affects the air pressure in the ear. This leads to a vacuum in the Eustachian tubes which makes the ears feel blocked and sound dull.”
“Try not to sleep during takeoff and descent as you will not be swallowing as frequently and this can lead to blocked ears.”
According to MedlinePlus, a health information site by the US National Library of Medicine, if your ears stay blocked, it can create a number of health issues — such as dizziness, ear infections, ear drum damage and, at worst, nosebleeds and hearing loss.
Staying awake during takeoff and landing to pop your ears helps to “equalize” the air pressure on your eardrums.
“Swallowing or yawning opens the Eustachian tube and allows air to flow into or out of the middle ear. This helps equalize pressure on either side of the eardrum,” MedlinePlus states.